Every year, thousands of children across the country send letters to Santa Claus’ workshop in the North Pole.
And Santa’s helpers answer.
For 104 years the United States Postal Service has replied and answered many of these letters through its charity program, Operation Santa with the help of volunteers.
“We’ve had a lot more letters from kids this year,” said Cindy Barraza, marketing assistant for the USPS Sierra Coastal District Office in Santa Clarita. “Last year we had about 2,500 but I expect there will be more this year.”
Operation Santa is being held in 15 USPS locations throughout California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania this year.
The program allows individuals, families and companies to act as Santa Claus as they “adopt” letters from children and adults, purchase items, return wrapped gifts to post office locations and cover postage fees.
“Whoever wants to come in and donate can,” Barraza said. “We just had a company take nine letters.”
Volunteers organize letters based on need and protect writers’ identities by removing personal information like last names and addresses and replacing them with identifying codes.
Children request gifts big and small that range from popular items like Pokémon cards and Shopkins to basic needs like sweaters and food, according to Barraza.
“Older children will often ask for gifts for their younger siblings,” Barraza said.
Adults often participate in the program as well by writing their own Christmas requests to Santa.
“We had an elderly couple that needed assistance and someone adopted them,” Barraza said. “They asked for gift cards for the grocery store and money so the man could buy something for his wife for Christmas.”
Letters that are not adopted still receive a response of some kind from Saint Nick, Barazza said. Post office employees do their part and furnish the stamps for the return letters as well.
Volunteers interested in adopting a letter still can do so at participating locations at the Los Angeles District Office, Castaic (Sierra Coastal District Office) and Santa Ana District Office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
The Castaic office is located at 28201 Franklin Parkway.
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